The Three Mistakes We All Make When Travelling
Have you ever thought about how much waste you create when you’re on holiday? Do you do enough research or are you potentially getting embroiled in inauthentic tour companies? And are you one of those tourists who go to a place only to be an obnoxious traveller with no respect for local customs? These are the most common travel mistakes, so how can you stop yourself from making them? In the age of environmental sustainability we’re all aware of the need to reduce, reuse and recycle as much as possible in our daily lives. But when it comes to going overseas or travelling away from home, we often leave all rules at the door. However, the same rules should apply no matter where in the world we go, so when making travel choices make sure you keep in mind the environment and sustainability. One of the best ways to do this is to start with thoroughly researching your travel options. Know where you’re going, who you’re going with, and what kinds of services are available. Check that your hotel/accommodation is environmentally friendly, and provides the basics like recycling services, renewable energy sources, and eco-friendly cleaning products. Many eco-hotels do not adhere to strict guidelines, so shop around and listen to reviews and international oversight organisations when making your choice. Make sure many organized local tours provide the same kind of transparency. At Seven Women we are dedicated to ensuring all of our tours are consistent with the local environment and sustainable for the local people. The benefits are a superior experience for all involved and an ethical outcome for our tour company. If you do enough digging you can always find a better alternative wherever you’re going.
Another great tip is to get rid of the ‘disposable attitude’ when travelling. Don’t throw it out! Just because you’re going away for a couple of weeks or even months doesn’t mean everything needs to be replaceable; reuse toiletry bottles, take a small towel with you in your suitcase, use electronic tickets rather than paper (if possible), and avoid things like room service or take-away meals to reduce waste. A lot of cultures are not as consumerist as the West, and being mindful of the way they purchase, use, and dispose of items can help you integrate into the environment in a more cohesive way. If the locals all cycle, hire a bike for the day and see the city the way they do. If you’re in a taxi line going to or from the airport, why not share with the person waiting behind you? Use public transportation instead of personal cars/drivers. All of these small steps create a more authentic experience and help to reduce your negative impact on the local environment.
Finally, one of the most common mistakes people make – often unwittingly – is being disrespectful towards local people or being unaware of the local customs. It is so important when traveling that you are mindful of the correct practices regarding dress, communication, dining etiquette, and general social behavior. We should all strive for authenticity when travelling to a new and exciting place, even if it means stepping outside our own comfort zone. At the Seven Women school we provide training and employment for marginalized women in Nepal, and they run classes in cooking, crafts and language. All of the lessons involve genuine Nepali techniques and practices; the benefit for teachers and students is that the subsequent cultural exchange is both intimate and genuine. Cultural classes are a great way to immerse yourself in your exciting destination and gain an appreciation for the local people. They can also be a handy crash course in local customs and behaviours. Again, doing some thorough research will help you locate these experiences, which in turn can open your eyes to the ‘real’ place and give you a greater appreciation for your foreign destination.